How I stopped feeling sorry for myself.

September 26, 2017

I cried throughout much of my first pregnancy. It was unexpected. I was unemployed and had no health insurance. I wasn’t married to my boyfriend-at-the-time and all the hopes and dreams I once had seemed to disappear. This unexpected event was a stark contrast to the person I believed I was.

Growing up, I often played by the rules.

I got good grades, went to a good college and a had a good job. I excelled in leadership and communication, beginning with my election as elementary school president, winning writing and speaking fairs in middle school and achieving pageant titles in high school. Life seemed to indicate a distinct path for me – despite having young classmates boo, teenage peers throw orange juice and work colleagues belittle me, I still believed each adversity was preparing me for a more fulfilling future.

While I was able to combat adversaries in my youth, I didn’t realize that the biggest fight in my life would not be faced externally, but internally.

In my mid-twenties, I founded a fitness nonprofit with the mission to help communities by building leaders. I didn’t know what I would do, I just knew that I was deeply impacted by my mother’s health issues and I wanted to help empower other people to take charge of their bodies. My newfound mission aligned with my youthful years writing, “make a difference” at the bottom of each diary page and praying each night to be an instrument of God’s power and peace.  

I certainly didn’t feel God ten years ago when my belly was blooming and my life plans were fading. I loved my boyfriend, but I didn’t feel ready to start an instant family. I loved my nonprofit, but I had to start thinking about what would put food on the table. I loved my body, but for three years of back-to-back pregnancy, I had no control over the stretchmarks, excess skin, weight gain and everything in-between.

I had to start getting realistic about life very fast.

So, I started to work, even taking jobs as a caregiver – and eventually an administrator – for my parent’s homes. I continued to host a nonprofit middle school program and with the help of First5 Sacramento, I started a free mom workout group, later transforming it into No Excuse Mom. I let go of my childhood dreams of writing a book, being on the cover of a magazine and becoming a fitness icon (yes, I wrote that in my diaries too!)  After years of hustling, I spent my savings, maxed out my credit cards and took out a loan, so I can build my first care home. While I was running my businesses, raising young sons, hosting programs and writing fitness articles via my blog and magazines – something happened…

I stopped feeling sorry for myself.

I stopped letting my circumstances define who I was and where I was going in life. I started taking ownership of my past mistakes, present challenges and future results. My fears turned into hope, my hope turned into passion, my passion turned into persistence, and my persistence turned into the path I journey today…

So here I am.

When I gave birth to my last child in 2011 I would’ve never imagined the world I lead today.

I would’ve never imagined after experiencing Bulimia and being pregnant several times, that I would be in front of a camera and taking fitness pictures like I once did in my early twenties.

I would’ve never imagined resonating with so many people – especially women – after years of feeling intimidated by others not liking me.

I would’ve never imagined being authentically me – and people accepting me, just as I was.

Ten years ago I was depressed because of fear. I didn’t know if I would ever be fit, if I would have my dream wedding, if we could afford a nice house or if I could ever pursue anything confidently inside the fitness world. In those darkest moments of regret, shame and solitude, I stopped asking myself what I lacked and started asking myself what I had. It is often said you cannot be depressed and grateful at the same time.

I find that statement to be true.

I didn’t know a lot, but what I DID know was that if I could dream, I could still strive for more. As long as I was alive and can take any action – big or small – the possibility to achieve was still there.

You never know what your world could look like ten years from now. I never knew after moving from rental home to rental home every two years, that we would finally settle into a beautiful home of our own. I would’ve never dreamed after writing fitness articles for over a decade that I would see my own book on the shelves at Target. After becoming a mother of three in my mid-thirties, I would’ve never envisioned running a marathon, completing a Spartan Beast and loving my body despite it not being a size 2 sans stretchmarks.

Most of all, I could never fathom the beautiful family we’ve created today. From our unexpected child #1 to our surprise child #2 and our planned child #3.

So much perfect can come out of what was once seemingly imperfect…

Holding my youngest in 2011. I can’t believe I was pregnant for three years straight.

This was in the backyard of our first home together. It was a really simple rental home that we loved. Every two years we would move because
we needed more space or the landlords chose to sell. It was a very vulnerable place to be!

These boys started attending workouts at the park since they were infants. So proud of what No Excuse Mom has grown into today. I love our community so much.

First photoshoot in ten years with Mike Byerly. We couldn’t contain the kids! It was a lot of fun and a big goal of mine.


1 Comment

  • Reply Shelby September 26, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    This is an amazing post Maria! I appreciate you taking the time to write inspirational posts. Stay encouraged because you ARE making an impact!

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